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The Beginner's Guide to Essential Oils

New to essential oils? There’s so much information out there that it can be overwhelming to sift through all of it! That’s why we’ve put together a simple, easy-to-follow beginner’s guide, just for you.

So, let’s start with question numero uno.

What are essential oils?

They’re highly concentrated plant extracts, essentially (sorry) and they are exceptionally aromatic due to their concentration levels. Imagine bottling the essence of 100 lemons into one little glass bottle -- the scent is potent. But so are its other naturally occurring properties.

For instance, peppermint and tea tree are high in a chemical compound called monoterpenols, which are known to be antiseptic. While a single peppermint leaf won’t do much, imagine distilling the essence of 1,000 leaves to create a powerful antiseptic compound.

You’ll often find these added to toothpastes and other topical treatments because of their sanitizing abilities.

How are essential oils used?

There are many ways to use essential oils, including creating hygiene products, but the two main applications are inhalation, and topical.

There are benefits to both methods. Inhaling the scent as well as application to the skin sends chemical signals to the brain, with each essential oil having its own unique effect.

Adding essential oils and essential oil blends to a diffuser is a popular way to access the benefits of inhalation. You can also add a drop or two in your bath or spray a dilution directly onto your sheets for a refreshing experience.

Topical application includes adding essential oils to your lotions and moisturizers, cleansing soaps, wipes, and more.

What are some good starter oils?

First, just like anything else that is widely available for purchase, there’s a great range in the quality of essential oils. It’s not necessary to purchase the most expensive or exclusive brands, but go organic when possible, be aware that a pure product will always list its country of origin, and cold-pressed or steam distillation is best.

Now, here are a few of our favorites that can be easily incorporated into your daily life.


A perennial favorite, lavender is found in everything. Skincare, hygiene, household cleansers, you name it!

One of our favorite ways to use lavender oil is to make our own bath salt by adding large crystal himalayan sea salt and a drop or two of lavender essential oil into a bowl and simply mixing it together. The pink salt and lovely scent also make for a great handmade gift in a jar or bottle.

Diffusing it in your bedroom will also help you unwind for a great night’s sleep.


With its clean, sharp aroma that can be quite strong when in its pure form, eucalyptus is often used to help clear up congestion. Getting sick is not fun and eucalyptus is great to help relieve some of the symptoms.

Add a few drops to a hot bowl of water, place your head directly over the steam and inhale deeply. Put a towel over your head for an intensified sinus-clearing session.

Eucalyptus is also great for direct application -- a drop or two on the chest will help relieve cough and chest congestion (think VapoRub), and rubbing it directly on a mosquito bite will soothe pesky insect bites. Perfect for this time of year!


Much like lavender, orange essential oil is a workhorse. There are a variety of similar uses but orange oil uniquely has an uplifting, invigorating scent that is known to help mental focus. It’s also a great antiseptic that’s kid-friendly.

For a quick pick-me-up, simply rub a drop between the palms of your hands, hold your hand up to your face, and inhale deeply.

To whip up a batch of surface cleaner, add 10 drops to a cup of water. To use it, shake and spray your surface, or soak a sponge, wipe it down and let your newly cleaned surface dry naturally.

Safety Basics

Because of the potency of essential oils, always take care to read up on each type and brand before use.

The basic rules of essential oil use, however, are:

  1. Test diluted oils on skin for sensitivity before application.
  2. Keep them away from children and pets.
  3. Don’t ingest essential oils.

Remember, if you’re at all interested in learning about the world of essential oils in depth, there’s a ton of information available with a simple Google search. You can also connect with expert by joining an online community like the very active Safe Essential Oil Recipes on Facebook, which boasts over 112,000 members!


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